June 10, 2013 at 11:35 AM ET
Microsoft kicked off the Electronic Entertainment Expo Monday morning in Los Angeles, showing off a bevy of exclusive games and touting the new console's prowess. They also announced the price and availability of the console: $499, starting in November.
The show opened with a slightly surreal musical trailer for the new "Metal Gear Solid" game, which will feature an open world, horses to ride, and an eccentric cast of characters.
Next, Xbox head Don Mattrick made some Xbox 360-related announcements, including a new, slimmer version of the console. Users with an Xbox Gold Live account will get a few free downloads to keep them company while they save up for an Xbox One.
But despite a few new games for the 360 (a kid-oriented platformer called "Max" and a sequel to cult hit "Dark Souls"), the focus of the show was definitely on the 13 Xbox One-exclusive games.
The first of these to be previewed was "Ryse: Son of Rome," a grim-looking action game set on the battlefields of ancient Rome. It's being developed by Crytek, makers of the well-known Crysis series, and is certainly graphically impressive.
Next, one out of left field: "Killer Instinct," the fighting game that got its start on the Super Nintendo, will be coming to the Xbox One, with all the classic characters. Insomniac Games followed that up with "Sunset Overdrive," which, apart from killing monsters in an open world with lots of friends,
Forza Motorsport 5 got a big round of applause from the audience — or maybe it was the gorgeous McLaren F1 supercar that rose out of the stage. "The new generation is about capturing the details that make our world human," the developer said. And they've certainly done that: The cars are more realistic than any we've ever seen.
The game will store your driving style in the cloud — where you like to be in the pack, whether you brake early, and so on — and it customizes your opponents' style to fit it.
Remedy, creators of the time-warping game/TV show "Quantum Break," first shown at the Xbox One reveal. The game appears to revolve around freezing time, and your choices will affect the "show" you watch.
Some "indie" games were also highlighted: "D4," an episodic murder mystery, and "Project Spark," a Kinect-controlled world-building game where players can sculpt the land, add allies and monsters, and share their little land with others. It's a bit like an evolved "LittleBigPlanet." And "Below" brought an old-school feel to the show with its top-down, Zelda-like adventuring.
"Crimson Dragon," spiritual successor to the classic "Panzer Dragoon" dragon-based shooters, suffered a sound glitch but gained audience-provided audio for its brief trailer.
After the games showcase, more features of the console itself were Microsoft's Smart Glass features also got some time: A companion app to "Ryse: Son of Rome" displayed progress and tips. Open-world zombie-smasher "Dead Rising 3" will let you manage items and call in artillery strikes using your tablet.
Next was a demonstration of the real-time recording and broadcast capability on Xbox One. The "Upload Studio" lets players quickly edit and add commentary to recorded game moments before they are uploaded to YouTube.
Frequent purchasers of games via Xbox Live will be extremely happy to hear that the store will now operate in your local currency instead of the inconvenient Microsoft Points.
The second half of the presentation brought out some heavy hitters. The first in-game footage from "The Witcher 3" made a splash, with its developer emphasizing the free-roaming world made possible by next-gen consoles.
"Battlefield 4" showed off an incredibly detailed gameworld with flying debris, fire, flowing water, and realistic physics, all taking place on a sinking aircraft carrier.
A cinematic trailer for a new "Halo," coming in 2014, showed Master Chief squaring off against a massive winged mechanism in the desert — but no actual gameplay was shown.
The last game shown was "Titanfall," which leaked earlier this week but was no less the impressive for it. Jumping freely between playing as huge, bulky mechs and the smaller, more agile humans looks like a blast.
Xbox One will be launching in November of this year for $499, or 499 euros or pounds for European buyers.
Devin Coldewey is a contributing writer for NBC News Digital. His personal website is coldewey.cc.